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Vote Self-Prediction Hardly Predicts Who Will Vote, and Is (Misleadingly) Unbiased

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  • Rogers, Todd

    (Harvard University and Analyst Institute, Washington, DC)

  • Aida, Masa

    (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research)

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    Abstract

    Public opinion researchers, campaigns, and political scientists often rely on self-predicted vote to measure political engagement, allocate resources, and forecast turnout. Despite its importance, little research has examined the accuracy of self-predicted vote responses. Seven pre-election surveys with post-election vote validation from three elections (N = 29,403) reveal several patterns. First, many self-predicted voters do not actually vote (flake-out). Second, many self-predicted nonvoters do actually vote (flake-in). This is the first robust measurement of flake-in. Third, actual voting is more accurately predicted by past voting (from voter file or recalled) than by self-predicted voting. Finally, self-predicted voters differ from actual voters demographically. Actual voters are more likely to be white (and not black), older, and partisan than actual nonvoters (i.e., participatory bias), but self-predicted voters and self-predicted nonvoters do not differ much. Vote self-prediction is "biased" in that it misleadingly suggests that there is no participatory bias.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp13-010.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp13-010

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    1. Daniel Kahneman & Dan Lovallo, 1993. "Timid Choices and Bold Forecasts: A Cognitive Perspective on Risk Taking," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(1), pages 17-31, January.
    2. Rogers, Todd T, 2011. "Motivating Voter Turnout by Invoking the Self," Scholarly Articles 8052150, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
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